Do you struggle with staying as comfortable as possible in your life and avoid all the things that scare you?
Instead of sitting in a place of comfort, let’s begin to lean into what scares us and continue not just once or twice but push through to experience the growth you desire.
In today’s episode we will be interviewing Till H. Gill who teaches millions of people how to CRUSH THEIR COMFORT ZONES!
Today we will learn:
- What is your Comfort Zone
- What Keeps Us Stuck There is the First Place
- How To Massively BREAK FREE
This is not just an activity of breaking free from your comfort zone, you will learn how this is a way of life.
Click below to hear this episode!
After studying psychology and apprenticing under some of the most influential therapists Till H. Gross founded Comfort Zone Crusher. Over the last year alone his talks, online courses and videos have reached over 1 Million people.
He teaches people how to become more confident, care less what others think and deal with fear more effectively, so they can live a rich and full life. Check out his blog here at www.comfortzonecrusher.com
Welcome to today’s episode of the show. Today is going to be all about crushing your comfort zone. Oh yes, that’s right. We’re going to be diving into what your comfort zone is, how to break free, what keeps us stuck in there in the first place and then how to massively and rapidly break free from it. So if you want to be part of the show, join the conversation. Go to shrinkfortheshyguy.com. You can send me a message there. You can look at show notes. You can download stuff. You can also go to Facebook.com/socialconfidence, Facebook.com/socialconfidence then you’ll get updates about the show and you get to participate in dialogue, that sort of thing. So, that’s a great way to stay in touch. If you have questions, you can send those to me because I love to answer those as well.
Also, I have occasionally some of the interviews that I do on the show come from someone message me and saying, “Hey, you really should interview this person, they’re amazing.” And then I look them up and they truly are amazing. And so, that’s a great way for someone you would love to hear me have on the show and I’m always open to ideas and that sort of thing. In fact today, we’re going to be interviewing an amazing guy who actually reached out to me. And I didn’t know who he was and I watched some his Ted Talk which has gotten over a million views now. And I checked out his website and what he’s offering and signed up for his list and watch some of his videos and I’m like, this guy is awesome. And he teaches people all over the world how to crush their comfort zones, how to totally break free. And it’s super valuable.
We’re going to get into a lot of the nitty-gritty about the comfort zone in this interview. And I want to let you ahead of time, he is currently in Austria and so we’re doing a Skype connection. And the first part of the interview, the connection is a little spotty off and on but the material was so good that I didn’t want to stop. And so, we went through and edit as best as we could but I just want to let you know, if at an occasional moment, it drops to here and there you don’t hear it perfectly, don’t worry. You’ll get the gist of it and it’s worth sticking with it because on the other side, it’s just some of the most inspiring insightful stuff that I’ve heard about this. It’s not even really an activity challenging the edge of our comfort zone. It’s actually a way of life.
And I think that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to have Till on the show is because you’ll really get that, talking then you can hear it in his voice and his energy by watching what he does in the world, by how he shows up is … and that’s how I’ve been living my life for, geez, I don’t know, 14, 15 years now. As you flip it from, “I’m going to be as comfortable as possible and avoid all things that scare me” to “I’m going to lean into what scares me,” but not just once or twice like I’m going to continually do that. That’s going to be what guides me in my life. That’s how I want to continuously grow. So, without further preamble, let’s dive into that interview right now because I think you’re going to learn a ton that’s going to help you in your life immediately.
Dr. Aziz: My guest expert today is Till H. Gross who apprenticed under some of the best therapists in the world and studied psychology at the University of Vienna and the University of Chicago. He is also best known as the founder of Comfort Zone Crusher which you may have heard of. Comfort Zone Crusher uses evidence-based psychotherapy techniques in a fun and playful way, tell people to expand their comfort zones and become more confident in themselves. Till has spoken at events like European Congress for Psychology, the Chamber of Commerce in Austria. And he’s done a couple of Ted Ex events and he held a guest lecture at the University of Vienna. At this point, Till’s talks and workshops reached over a million people including one of his Ted Talks which you may have seen as well. So we’re super excited to have you on the show. Thanks for coming on, Till.
Till H. Gross: Yes, hey Aziz, thank you so much for having me. I’m very excited to talk to you.
Dr. Aziz: Yes, so there’s a ton that we can learn from you about comfort zone crushing. But the first question I got to ask you, super basic and most people know what it is but I just wanted to get your definition. What is the comfort zone?
Till H. Gross: Okay, right. Yes, so your comfort zone is basically a place or it’s like a state, like a emotional, physical or cognitive state where we’re very comfortable obviously, right? So, that’s this place where we know what we’re doing, we know what’s going to happen next, we don’t feel very challenged and everything is kind of like no, just like kind of like comfortable and normal. And most of the time, we don’t really feel particularly anything within our comfort zone. Most of the time, it’s … when we start to get to the edge of our comfort zone, then we wouldn’t start to feel something. And most of the time though, when it’s like your social comfort zone, you start to notice when you’re [inaudible 00:05:18.15] or leave your social comfort zone when your handstand start to get a bit sweaty or your heart pounds faster, you easily getting weak. And then you notice, “Oh my God, I’m leaving my comfort zone right now.” And beforehand, you didn’t really feel anything because it was like so within my comfort zone. And that’s where we spend most of our time, right, like probably 95% of the time, we’re spending within our comfort zone. And we’re not really aware of this and this is comes like … probably almost like an auto-pilot and just go on and control our life. That’s what our comfort zone is.
Dr. Aziz: Yes, it’s actually really interesting distinction that you’re making there where our comfort … and the name of comfort zone, when I think of comfort, I think sitting down on a big couch with some great food and a movie. But a comfort zone is always not necessarily comfort, comfortable. It’s just kind of nothing. It’s just kind of there’s no … and then the … when you get to the edge of it, that’s when it starts to become uncomfortable. And that’s when we really notice that edge.
Till H. Gross: Yes, exactly. And I think there’s … what you just mentioned … this like sitting down the couch and having some great food. That’s definitely also like it’s comfortable. That’s definitely also part of the comfort zone. I think there’s definitely the right time, the right place to do this kind of things, take care of yourself, watch a nice movie and this kind of things. But I think like at least in our society right now, like we’re in a society where we are so addicted to comfort. There’s a psychologist [inaudible 00:06:46.18] who’s a very famous psychologist and [inaudible 00:06:51.8] and they talked about that nowadays, we don’t even have blankets. We even have blankets with like heating inside of a blanket because like just normal blankets are not comfortable enough anymore. And as you said, like sitting on a couch, it’s a great thing. And once in a while, it’s great. However, overall I think our society has this addiction to comfort and we just spend too much time on our comfort zone. And also, we don’t push ourselves hard enough and that’s where we kind of like [inaudible 00:07:17.08] don’t feel alive anymore.
Dr. Aziz: Yes, let’s talk about that for just a moment because what … so what is the downside of spending most of our time in this comfort zone, in this comfortable place?
Till H. Gross: Oh yes, so obviously there are also upsides, right? But because you didn’t ask about the downside, the biggest downside is probably that you’re not growing. You want to grow as a person. You need to do new things and that our predisposition outside your comfort zone. For example, if you want to get smarter and you get better at anything, what you have to do is things like deliver or practice. And which means, you have to do the things you’re not good at yet and then, this, most of the time, is uncomfortable, right? For example, everybody has this [inaudible 00:08:06.3] of playing an instrument. If you start playing guitar, for example, I’ve tried it in the past. At the beginning, it feels like you’re breaking your fingers literally. So, it’s very uncomfortable to learn it at first.
So, it’s outside your comfort zone. And that’s in terms of [inaudible 00:08:18.5] in this area or for example, your social comfort zone. And Aziz, you talk about this as well pretty often. If you want to meet new people and you’re not good at this yet, it’s uncomfortable, it’s scary, it’s frightening or as a guy, if you wanted to talk to a girl in the street, that’s terrifying and just putting yourself out there. So, the downside of staying within your comfort zone is that you just miss out on so many good things that life has to offer. And you stop growing as a person. And you kind of like just stay the same and often you even get to degenerate, just like a lesser version of yourself, more or less.
Dr. Aziz: Yes, that’s a key insight there is that growth requires doing something new. And like by definition in order to grow, we have to be outside of our comfort zone whether that’s growing in our mind, our intelligence, our knowledge or our social abilities or as you’re describing, skills and instrument, all that stuff. Everything requires us to go outside of that comfort zone.
Till H. Gross: Yes, totally, totally.
Dr. Aziz: So there’s … let’s talk a little bit more about … because sometimes people will hear that and in a lecture, they’ll say “Yes, yes, that sounds about right.” But what is it do you think that so many people as you said have this addiction to comfort? We all know … I noticed it in myself too, right? When it comes to the time of my schedule to work out, there’s a part of me that’s like, “I’d rather just sit here and not do anything.” What is it inside of us that trips us up? That kind of guides us continually towards that center of the comfort zone? And how do we work with that part of ourselves?
Till H. Gross: Yes, I think it’s an excellent question. And I think understanding this and how we work in this regard, I think is very, very helpful and if you want to grow at any area of your life and our emotions are at the core of this and our emotions are basically nothing else than behavior motivators. So, our emotions navigate us towards what’s casual and comfortable. And they’ll never get us away from what’s uncomfortable. They never get us towards pleasure and away from pain. However, it’s always our emotions, always just operating in the here and now. This means sitting on the couch right now is more pleasurable than going to the gym even though in the long run, looking at the big picture probably over the next month or years, overall probably being healthy and being ripped and jagged is probably more pleasurable than having like sitting on the couch.
However, our emotions can only navigate at the moment in the like here and now. So, if you can choose between the pleasure of sitting in your coach or pain of going to the gym, most of time, our emotions drive us towards the pleasurable thing which is often within our comfort zone. And this means the only way … basically, the only way to make our self drunk on this stuff is to literally force ourselves. But here’s the good thing, as we started to force ourselves a couple of times, the one I’m guessing a lot of people talk about that it becomes a habit and this is definitely true however, I believe that if you constantly want to grow, it never would have become a habit because you have to overcome your own like inner emotions that drive you away from this over and over again.
So, a big part of this is learning how you can force yourself to do the uncomfortable stuff. And there are tons of studies, you probably know this, you know this as well. All the studies from Roy Baumeister, who wrote a ton of … and published a ton of studies about will power? Will power is basically like a muscle and that’s at the core that we will need to build as a person, [inaudible 00:12:50.3] pretty often to overcome and basically force us to do uncomfortable stuff. And yes, you can put systems in place and you can create like the external motivations and this kind of things. But I think being able to force yourself to do uncomfortable stuff will help you in so many different areas of your life.
Dr. Aziz: Yes, and I think we want to get into all the tactics and techniques of accessing that willpower and forcing ourselves to do things. But first though, I think it’ll be even more fascinating to learn from your experience because your story is fascinating. And you’ve done … you’re kind of a pioneer in this, that’s why you’re so passionate about it, that’s why you teach people how to do it but you yourself have grown tremendously and continue to do so. So, what made you want to start on this journey and expand your comfort zone in the first place?
Till H. Gross: Yes, that’s a good question. Yes, so … and I’m talking about this. I, at one point … so, the big problem or basically, people start to get out of their comfort zones for two reasons. Either on the one hand, they start to realize that most of the good things in life are outside your comfort zone and they want to get the good things or staying within your comfort zone becomes so unbearable that you can’t stay in it anymore and basically, this discomfort within your comfort zone forces you to leave your comfort zone. And that was true in my case. I felt stuck. I was off and trying to stay in my comfort zone and just started to like feel so uncomfortable basically. Even if I was safe within it, I start to feel stuck. I started to … I had the feeling that I was not growing anymore and I was missing out in so many good things. And back of the days, it was … I was like 19, 20 back then.
And at this point of time, I was already starting psychology. I was already having a couple of mentors in the psychology field. And then I want to have a good moment, [inaudible 00:14:52.5] as I work with more people. What this meant was I had to put myself out there and approach people. And that was terrifying, walking up to some very, very influential psychologists and therapists and then asking them if I can learn from them or ask them questions. And this really terrified me because there was always the very high chance … because I was nobody. I was like 19, 20 like nobody knew me. So, I obviously had a very, very high chance of getting rejected and this terrified me. However, then I figured out, if I don’t do this, I will keep on staying where I am right now or continue feeling stuck. So, this really drove me out of my comfort zone and that at one point, I figured out like I have to overcome this fear and I have to learn how I can step out of my comfort zone over and over again and basically gain more control of all my own emotions and thereby be able to do all the things I want to do and not be held back by this fear anymore.
Dr. Aziz: Yes, I love it. And one thing I noticed about you which felt very similar in my experience is that, I’ve seen a range of the ways that people approach us because that’s what I do, is I help people work with this stuff. And I see a whole range of responses. Some people … I mean almost everyone if you sit down and talk with them and explain this idea of the comfort zone, they get it. It’s not rocket science. It makes sense. It’s just … and they’ve experienced in other areas of their life but I’ve seen there’s kind of two camps.
One is like, “Okay, I’ll do this just enough to get some of the stuff that I want. I don’t need to go crazy. I don’t need to become this super confident person. I just want to get a girlfriend and if I could just get a girlfriend, then who cares about all the rest of the stuff. Or I just want to get better job and if I can do that, I’d just be happy. I don’t want to become this or that.”
And they’re sort of like the … it’s like the “just enough” camp and nothing wrong with that, there’s a lot of people that they don’t need to go crazy with it. But then there’s people like you and me who are like, “Wait a minute. What if I just kept doing this again and again and again and again? And that’s what I seem to notice when I spoke with you is, how you were just … it sounds like you just keep continually finding the edge of your comfort zone and move towards it. Is that right?
Till H. Gross: Oh yes, definitely. And I said before, they always come up with challenges and then when you work on yourself, the more you discover within yourself that there are a lot of things that you can basically discover and that you can overcome and also on the external world, you achieve more thing and then like a ton of new opportunities open up, then [inaudible 00:18:06.06] challenges once again. So I think, that is like a continuous journey and I think also [inaudible 00:18:10.12] there was like “just enough” camp. I think most of time, for those people who probably also noticed is, “All right, now you are in a relationship.” However, being in a committed relationship has so many new challenges by itself. Things like putting yourself out there and being vulnerable. Communicating [inaudible 00:18:30.10] so I think, no matter what you do, even as you achieve like the goal that you have, there will always be new challenges so, yes.
Dr. Aziz: Yes, I think you’re absolutely right. And it’s like we can we can face the fear, we can push the edge of the comfort zone just enough. And then kind of a plateau at a new level but what we’re doing is we’re then setting ourselves up for future pain, I think, honestly. So yes, if you do just enough work outside your comfort zone to get that girlfriend and then you plateau yes, your relationship is probably not going to thrive. You’re now become more insecure, you’ll become more jealous, you won’t be able to communicate as well so you got to keep kind of pushing that edge. And I think the people that make that shift of like, “Oh, this isn’t just a one-off thing. This is actually something I need to continually do throughout my life to really become my best self and reach my potential.” Those are the people that I think really thrive, really excel. So, the question that I really … go ahead.
Till H. Gross: No, go ahead.
Dr. Aziz: So, one question I wanted to ask you is what are what are some of the challenges on the edge of your comfort zone? Because you’ve done a ton of stuff so some of the things you teach which we’ll get into a moment but like lying down on the street and some of these other basic ones, I’d imagine, are not a big deal to you anymore. So, what’s on the edge of your comfort zone? What are you doing to grow and challenge yourself?
Till H. Gross: That’s a really good question. And I think at the moment, there’s a couple of different things. I think on the one hand, I want to get … as you know, we talked about this before, I’m going to get married next month. So, this is definitely going to be very, very big comfort zone challenge for me, if you will. I think being in a really committed relationship and I’ve never been in that kind of committed relationship like being married actually. So, this will be a very big challenge and I’m definitely going to experience all the challenges on this regard. And on the other hand, I’m … a lot of new challenges come up with the business. I do love public speaking, for example.
And what I’ve noticed there is … and I started to do more corporate gigs so I come to companies, I go to companies when they kind of like feel a bit stuck and they have like older employees and I come in there and I show them how they can step out of their comfort zone. And this pretty often, at the beginning, I was trying to play it safe because I know I’m a young guy and when I come in there, people are not going to take me seriously right from the start. So, at the beginning, I always tried to play it safe. And then I noticed [inaudible 00:21:06.24] results that could get so, but I only think of the really results, if I really put myself out there so, I really push hard and go as hard as I can go and with the chance and with the potential of failing, so, this is one of the biggest comfort zone challenges I have right now.
So, my professional work really pushed the boundary of what I’m capable of and what I can do because I think set goals, for example, like online marketer, he talks a lot about this. He said that I should always like explore the extremes. And exploring the extremes in no matter which area it’s in is always scary. So, that’s probably the biggest thing for me right now in terms of the business, in terms of a public speaking, exploring the extremes again and that’s something what I did a lot when I was younger. I really executed this but over the last couple of months, I started to do less and less because it was such a safe base. I have this comfort zone and stage, for example, owning the business.
And then I’ve noticed, I didn’t feel happy with this anymore. And now, I need to push this once again and then and start to get to the extremes again to see what happens there, to see how far can I push things in order to get the biggest results there. So, probably those are the two big things on one end, my personal life and marriage and the professional lives. And my professional life, go to the extremes again just to figure it out. I think those are probably the two biggest comfort zone challenges for me at the moment.
Dr. Aziz: Yes, I love it. I love it, thanks for sharing about that. And I think that’s … I relate so much with what you’re talking about. I think that … I know for me, it was, “Can I reach out to people? Can I become more socially confident? Can I talk to women?” And then those stopped becoming challenges because if you do these things enough, your comfort zone really does expand. And then it became … well, it’s creating a relationship, ongoing relationship. That’s a challenge on then now having kids, that’s a whole new challenge. And when I found … what’s fascinating about business is similar to you in the sense that there … you can earn enough to make a living but if you’re driven by growth and the desire to be at the extremes as you’re talking about or to push the edge, then it’s just kind of this continual expansion. I noticed that in myself too. It’s like everything new that I’m taking on isn’t like, “What can I do to earn more money?” It’s like, what scares me? Oh, cool. Let’s do that. And of course, it happens that in business, usually what scares us is also the stuff that generates s income. So, it’s kind of a good mixture there but I think that what you’re really describing is a growth-oriented approach to life. And it’s super inspiring.
Till H. Gross: Yes and yes, thank you. And then I think I’ve seen a lot of other people especially my mentors, that they do [inaudible 00:23:58.5] consistently. And when I look at them when I was younger, I didn’t realize how scary it can be to consistently put yourself out there and consistently move or act in those extremes. And [inaudible 00:24:14.5] a bit more clear but to be more tangible, extreme means, for example, when I go up on stage and I tell a joke that can either, when I go up in stage to do public speaking and I tell a joke and either the audience are going to love me or they’re going to hate me. I think I’m like I don’t know, for example, I’m like a [inaudible 00:24:32.5] or they’ll go like, that was really funny. Those are the extremes, where you really push hard and you can either really win and you win big as you said, those are the moments where you win the biggest games or you can completely lose.
And it’s like … it’s not like this comfortable. It’s not like, “I was okay, that didn’t last” but no, it’s like either they hate you or they love you. This is one example or recoding videos like, “This can change my life or no, like he is completely wrong. He’s an idiot.” So, going away from or trying to move away from this thing, “Oh yes that was all right. That was good.” So personally for me, now when I get up stage, for example, when people email me responses to my videos, when I open, I get a thing like, “Oh that was really good.” Like, that’s not enough. It should be either like, “I think you’re an idiot, you shouldn’t have said this or that was stupid or that was not … or it should be like this potentially could change my life. Like, that was incredible.
And not try to get rid of those strong responses to make sure that I’m not somewhere dabbling in the middle of it. That I’m suddenly like dabbling in like my comfort zone. And I developed in this field because when I really started out, I would’ve think that no matter what I did, I was outside my comfort zone. And I mean like just recording my first YouTube video or sending out my first email to the couple of thousand subscribers. So, all of those things were out of my comfort zone. But now, all those things are within my comfort zone. And now it’s all about how far can I push little things? How much am I willing to show up? How much am I willing to like show myself, share other things about myself? And [inaudible 00:26:01.17] business probably is one of the biggest challenges right now. And as you said, the potential gains are incredibly high. And I think this will all make it really worth it.
Dr. Aziz: Yes, I love that. Thank you for clarifying the extremes there and it reminds me of a phrase that people … they love you or they hate you and there’s not a whole lot in the middle. And that’s true for anything whether it’s dating in relationships. I know, there was one client I was working with who was struggling in his dating life and he had a number of women sort of “Nah,” lukewarm, not that interested, maybe go on a date but that was it, just one. And he was so frustrated because he was not aware of what he was … “I’m being myself, this should be working.” And when I talked with him about his experience on the dates, what he was doing is he was doing exactly what you try not to do till he was going right in the middle. He was trying to play it safe.
And he … well, didn’t want to take any risk. What you’re talking about is a risk to make that bold joke or to put something out there that’s more forceful or more clear is a risk because people could not like it. And so, he didn’t want to take any risks on this date. And what I was trying to communicate to him was like, “Okay, the land that you want to get to, the land of love and connection and sex and adventure and excitement? That’s the same land as offending her, as her being pissed off at you for what you said like that’s in the same place. You can’t get one without potentially getting the other. And I love that. It’s … and now, so now, it’s the land of extremes. I want to borrow your term there and use that with people. I love it.
So, let me ask you a question here because you are … okay, so let’s say someone is wanting to build up this muscle, this muscle of will power, this muscle of getting outside their comfort zone. Maybe they’re inspired by you and what you’re doing in the world and they wanted do this more in all areas of their lives; their work life, their dating life, their social life. How can we start doing this? How can we overcome that resistance inside of us and just start getting out there and challenging our comfort zone daily?
That brings us to the end of the episode for today. There is more in the interview, we couldn’t get to it all today but next week, we’re going to be diving into a lot of the nitty-gritty of exactly how to break out of our comfort zones. This time, I was talking about the “why.” Why we want to do it? What we’re going to get out of it? How to kind of continually expand and grow in our lives? What benefits of that are? That’s going to motivate us and inspire us because our “why” and our reasons are huge. They make up a big piece of what we do and whether we do something or not.
Next week, you’re going to learn some really powerful tips and insights on well exactly what do I do to expand my comfort zone? And how do I overcome those fears? How do I … what do I do if I freeze up and I just can’t pull it off? How do I deal with this incessant worry about what other people are thinking of me and the cage that that creates? We’re going to dive into all of that and help you break free. So, it’s a super valuable second part and the quality is even better on the second half so I’m super excited to share that with you. And so, stay tuned for that. For the end of today’s show though, we’ve got to end with what we always end with which is your action step.
Your action step for today, now you might think, is going to be to do one of those challenges but, you know what, we’re going to save that for next week because we’re going to dive into more of the specifics, the “how-to’s” of challenging or crushing your comfort zone next week. So, we’ll save that action step. For today, we want to prep you for success. We want to set you up to win. So, your action step for today is actually going to be to get clear on your “why.” Why do you want to crush your comfort zone? What is it going to bring into your life? What do you want to ultimately be able to do because the activities and the strategies and the techniques that you’re going to learn maybe some from this interview, some from other shows of mine, from the interview next week, that’s like the dumbbell in the gym, lifting the 10 or the 20 or the 50-pound dumbbell.
That in itself is usually not the end result. I mean I guess it’s cool, you can be like, “Yes, I can bench press 300 pounds.” But ultimately, your why is something bigger in your life, right? Like you want to be strong, you want to be healthy, you want to look good, you want a girlfriend, you want to … whatever. You want impress people, you want to sell your body building products, I don’t know, whatever it is but there’s an end result. And it’s the same thing for you when you think about challenging the edge of your comfort zone. What is it that you want in your life? Do you want to be able to move to a different job? Do you want to be able to earn more money? Do you want to be able to create your own business? Do you want to be able to get into a better relationship or a different relationship or meet someone?
What is it that you would do if the … your comfort zone was as big as the world? If you could do anything you wanted without fear, what would you do? What are the things that you want to go after? And then why, why is it essential for you to get those things? Why is it essential for you to do that in your life? And you can build up those reasons, what you want and why you want it? Then that’s going to give you juice and fuel and motivation to put into practice what you’re going to learn next week. And so, stay tuned for next week’s show. You’re going to learn a bunch of tips and tricks and techniques on how to put this into practice, how to crush your comfort zone and take your life to the next level. So, until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level, that you’re awesome.
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